Sunday, December 3, 2023

How garbage helped build the parkway and saved Mechanicsville

This fall, I wrote a two-part column for the Kitchissippi Times on how garbage was used to fill in three bays on the Ottawa River, between Mechanicsville and LeBreton Flats, creating artificial land. That land was primarily used for the creation of the Kichi Zībī Mīkan (Ottawa River Parkway), but much of it still remains unused, awaiting potential future use by the NCC for embassies or who knows what at LeBreton. 

Part one I previously posted here in the Museum (

This is part two:

Part two focuses on Lazy Bay, and how this popular water spot was filled in, which may have actually saved Mechanicsville. If it wasn't for filling in the Bay, the Parkway may have had to run much further south, which would have cut significantly into the housing of the neighbourhood. And honestly, that wouldn't have been seen as that bad an option to City Council, who considered the whole of Mechanicsville for major urban renewal at the time. A huge 1960s project would have seen the entirety of the neighbourhood torn down a la LeBreton, and replaced by apartment blocks. Thankfully this was avoided, in part due to the filling of Lazy Bay. 

The building of the National Arts Centre also played a key role in filling in these bays, and you'll want to read about the astonishing fact that less than a year after garbage was dumped indiscriminately in to the bays, expensive contracts were let to remove some of the garbage! (But only in certain areas, certainly not the full length of the Ottawa River). 

I plan on writing a "part 3" over the Christmas break (exclusively here for the Museum) on what all this means today, and what water and soil testing and sampling has shown over the last 20-30 years. The results are interesting, and I put in quite a bit of time in the fall digging in to the results. So more to come on that soon. 

Note, I will also be making a presentation about this whole topic, which will feature many visuals/photos/etc. for the Historical Society of Ottawa on Saturday January 27th. It will be at 1 p.m. but will NOT be broadcast online I don't think. It will be an in-person Speaker Series event at the auditorium of the Ottawa Public Library. I don't believe you need to be a member of the HSO to attend, but I certainly encourage you to consider taking out a membership to help this valuable group, and the work they do to help promote and preserve heritage in Ottawa.,17/ottawa-s-shoreline-built-from-garbage

Please enjoy part two and perhaps I'll see you in January!

Lazy Bay-Bayview Bay-Nepean Bay in 1928

The same three bays in 2022

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